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Doug Klotz

While it's a fine job of construction and design, one is struck by the irony of a house whose location means the energy use required to get there would seem to cancel out much of the energy savings, compared to a house in a city where most trips could be made by more sustainable means.

LEED, I think, at least acknowledges building location (and thus, transportation choices) in their ratings Perhaps that accounts for the snide reference to a bike rack out front.


Thanks for an informative piece on an interesting new build eco certification project. It would have been nice to know at the end of the day which of the three certifications they thought was most useful? It sounded like Minerge was the sweet spot, paradoxically it also seemed like the most difficult to work with and translate.
This brings up another query. Maybe I've missed it, but I'd love to see more articles on a bit more affordable eco/certified restoration projects of existing homes versus the somewhat questionable sustainability of a new build. I know this is an architecture website and obviously there will be many new builds in the future, so projects like this can be interesting to this audience.
But the vast bulk of our housing is already existing and my experience with clients is the relative complex processes of LEED and Passivhaus and Living Building do more to deter aspirational remodels than attract people to the merits of sustainability applied to older homes. I'd love to see more architects working on creative sustainable redesigns of older homes which takes a public informed about the mertis and relative long term value of hiring architects for such work.
I think projects like you have reviewed may end up being viewed as iconic and very expensive vanity projects while alienating most people's imagination for good value design and sustainability for the vast majority of existing housing stock.


What this project highlighted for us is that Passive House and LEED are complementary opposites as green building certifications. Passive House has it's laser-like focus on energy performance but (intentionally) doesn't touch other sustainability questions. LEED is comparatively weak in actually ensuring good energy performance, but does address a broad range of other sustainability concerns. Taken together, the pair make a powerful duo. Minergie-P-ECO encapsulates this in a single certification, but its practicality is another story...

Regarding the observation that this house would use less energy if located in the city due to less resource-intensive transportation options, I don't think anyone on the project team - client, designer, or builder - would dispute that. I don't see that as ironic, however. We need to see a transformation of the energy performance of all our buildings, urban or rural. (...and new or existing, to the second commenter's point.)

BTW, for more discussion about the certification lessons learned at Karuna, see this piece: http://hammerandhand.com/field-notes/lessons-learned-from-the-karuna-house-and-its-spicy-stew-of-green-building-certifications/


Interiors appear nice and well detailed. Good job... but...I fail to see any connection of the form of the house with the landscape. 5 separate boxes with stucco or wood finish. This is a composition in the designers head via computer. A dead graphic solution. Is it truly working with the earth and sky? The composition is familiar and predictable in design era 2005-2015. Maybe the program killed innovative design?


I wonder if the client and designers considered the Living Building option? If so, why they didnt chose it as a sound approach? I't would be so useful to have one accessible approach to guiding clients toward more considered sustainable development, whether a remodel or new build.

eric cantona

I love this house and what it represents. we need to understand that a lot of cutting edge sustainable technology will benefit greatly from this type of high-end residential development. sure it doesn't help reduce sprawl, but if you're going to build something in the sticks it's nice to see it being used as a guinea pig.

I also can't help commenting on this little gem:

"Stuhr: What’s often sad about that landscape is when the houses look plunked down in terms of how they got sited. They look so foreign to the landscape."

while I believe that Holst has produced some of the best architecture in this area for a while now, the level of either arrogance or ignorance embodied by this answer in its entirety is stunning. personally I very much like this house, but is it in any way contextually sensitive or unobtrusive on the landscape? maybe there's some charcoal sketches in their office that convinced them of it, but in reality it's a decidedly foreign object sitting on a bucolic hillside. not saying it isn't a correct response to the site and program, but to make statements like that are honestly baffling.

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